Sharing your life with a pet is a wonderful, rewarding thing. No matter what type of pet. Ever since I was a kid my family had a pet, sometimes even more than one. The first pet I ever recall having was a goldfish, then a hamster, a cat and finally, we graduated to getting a dog! We knew little about having a dog but what my family did know was that we loved him! I remember one winter morning he got out the door and was missing but I was told I had to go to school and thought about him all day, out in the cold of the winter. Luckily a neighbor had found him and taken him in for the day. I remember being so happy and relieved to have him safely back home! Having a pet is great for a number of reasons; they provide companionship, in the case of a dog they get you outdoors for exercise, and they can help teach kids about responsibility.
Having a pet is a big responsibility that you need to consider before getting one. Are you prepared to care for them for the full length of their life, whatever that number may be? If the kids who wanted the pet start slacking on their responsibilities of caring for the pet, are you prepared to take over and/or reinforce the responsibilities to the kids so the pet doesn’t suffer? Are you prepared to give them the time required to train, groom, exercise and take them to the vet? Are you prepared financially for all of those things as well as the unexpected, such as a serious illness or accident? Pets should be vaccinated and visit a veterinarian on a regular basis to ensure they are healthy as they have limited ways of communicating to us if they feel unwell. Regular grooming for certain pets is a requirement as well, especially long-haired dogs or cats. All dogs and cats will need their nails trimmed, floppy-eared dogs may need regular ear cleanings. Exercise is essential even for indoor cats, they should have a way to learn, play, explore and move. Even more so for puppies and dogs, especially any high-energy breeds! Bored, unexercised pets can become destructive as they will find ways to entertain themselves such as digging holes in your yard, chewing, scratching and destroying items/furniture in your house, demand barking or meowing incessantly. Even if your pet is somehow limited physically, by an injury for example, there are things you can do to exercise their brains which can be just as exhausting and make for a tired but happy pet. Teaching your pet basic tricks (yes, cats can learn tricks too!) can build a bond between you and your pet. You can teach tricks that might be useful on a vet or groomer visit such as give a paw, lie down on your side, or stand still.
Many people think the responsibility ends after the first couple of years or months and the pet has been vaccinated, has been to one series of basic dog training classes and gets out for a daily walk. But the responsibility is for a lifetime, you made the choice to bring them into your life so it is up to you to make adjustments for them as they get older or slower, maybe need more attention, need a special diet or a slower, shorter walk. If circumstances are so bad that you just cannot keep the pet for some reason and there is no other solution, it is your biggest responsibility to find them a sound and suitable home where they will be happy and healthy for the remainder of their life.
Our pets are only with us for a very short time frame so we need to enjoy them while they’re here with us and keep that promise to provide for them for the entirety of their lives.